Buster Skrine is still a freshman, at least for a few more weeks. But there’s nothing wide-eyed about the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga cornerback. Those days are gone, erased by the experiences of the past nine months.
Now that seniors Ronnie Jackson, Jeff Phillips and Chris Camacho are gone, Skrine is the lone returning starter from last year’s secondary. He replaced Brandon Golder in the starting lineup for UTC’s final three games last season, intercepting two passes against Western Kentucky in his first career start and returning one 45 yards for a touchdown.
“My confidence is way up since I got to step in and get a chance to play last year,” Skrine said following the Mocs’ practice Thursday at Finley Stadium. “My confidence is high and I just come out every day and do what my coaches tell me to do.”
Mocs coach Rodney Allison said the speedy 5-foot-8 Skrine, who has already put on more than 15 pounds of muscle since he arrived on campus, has the potential to be an elite player by the time he’s done at UTC.
“He’s got unlimited ability,” Allison said. “The thing about him is he’s such a great person, he’s got great character and he wants to be a great player. Everything is still in front of him.”
Skrine may be the only returning starter from last season, but he’s not the only familiar face, nor is he the only experienced player in the secondary.
Cornerback Raeshon Ball, who started six games in 2006 after transferring from Central Michigan, is back on the field after missing all of last season with a knee injury. Cornerback Anthony Brodnax and safety Tony Swofford both played in all 11 games last season, and safety Chris Blanson is a junior college transfer.
The only newcomers expected to see a lot of playing time this season are redshirt freshmen J.D. Dothard and Chris Lewis-Harris.
“We’ve got a good group and I really think they’re going to do well in the new (4-3) system,” Allison said.
Skrine, like Lewis-Harris, has spent part of his offseason with the UTC track and field team. He participated in the Southern Conference Indoor Championships, placing 11th in the long jump with a leap of 21 feet, 3/4 inches, and plans to take part in the SoCon Outdoor Championships later this month, once spring practice is completed.
This and that
The Mocs weren’t scheduled to practice Thursday but moved their ninth workout of the spring up a day because of the bad weather forecast for today. The change resulted in a couple of players either missing practice or arriving late due to afternoon classes. ... The team will be off today and will resume practice Saturday and conduct another scrimmage Sunday. ... Redshirt freshman quarterback Sloan Allison sat out Thursday’s practice with a deep thigh bruise. He said the injury occurred during last Saturday’s practice.
John Frierson is in his fifth year at the Times Free Press and fifth year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...